Under Donald Trump’s presidency, white nationalists have felt free to come out into the open in the United States with more prominence than before. Last year, in one of the most infamous examples, white nationalists descended on Charlottesville, Virginia, for a weekend of violence that ended with three dead. On the first anniversary of that incident, organizers have planned to rally again, this time in D.C. — and they’re already facing blowback.
Transit workers in D.C. are refusing to go along with providing special cars on the public rail system for racist rally attendees. The special cars plan hasn’t been set in stone yet, according to transit authorities, but a local union shares that sources have confirmed to them that it’s under consideration.
In response, the president of the local Amalgamated Transit Union chapter Jackie Jeter asserted:
‘Local 689 is proud to provide transit to everyone for the many events we have in D.C. including the March of Life, the Women’s March and Black Lives Matters. We draw the line at giving special accommodation to hate groups and hate speech.’
D.C. Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld shared that his agency is simply aiming to “come up with potential solutions on how to keep everybody safe.” The violence that rocked the Virginia “Unite the Right” rally last year certainly hangs heavy over the city’s considerations. In a widely publicized incident, a white nationalist rammed his car into a crowd of counterprotesters, leaving one dead and others injured. Violence ensued when white nationalists and other counterprotesters encountered each other too.
In the time since, white nationalists like Unite the Right’s Jason Kessler have kept it up. Right after the original violence in Charlottesville, some other far right wingers organized a rally in Boston, Massachusetts, that drew a large counterprotest presence.
In June of this year in Portland, Oregon, a riot exploded with the right wing group “Patriot Prayer” on one side and left wing counterprotesters on the other, a set-up repeated during a weekend in early August. Local activist Effie Baum blasted the Patriot Prayer group as peddling “white supremacy, transphobia and homophobia.”
Besides rally and riot type events, there have also been an array of one-off racist incidents that have rocked the United States. It wasn’t that long ago that an elderly man from Mexico was beaten with a brick and told to go back to his country. Although in that particular incident, the perpetrator faced justice in the form of attempted murder charges, there is a steady stream of reports from all across the nation of minority community members facing harassment that threatens their safety.
According to a local Fox affiliate, more than 80 percent of the members of the local ATU chapter in D.C. are people of color, so the union has an acutely personal reason to be concerned about giving white nationalist rally attendees special treatment. Violence against individuals including members of the union is built into Unite the Right’s ideology.
The “Unite the Right” rally planned for August 12 is set to be held at Lafayette Park in D.C., which is near the White House — where a man who often peddles racist ideals himself currently resides.
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